The signing of Alexandre Lacazette was seen, at the time, as something of a landmark moment for Arsenal. For years, since the sale of Robin Van Persie to Manchester United, the Gunners had lacked a natural goalscorer. Lacazette, proven at Lyon, was that goalscorer. And yet he struggled to initially find his feet in North London.
Indeed, Lacazette struggled to such an extent in his first season as an Arsenal player that he was considered a flop. The signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the January window was widely seen as confirmation of this, with the Gunners plunging significant funds into signing another big-money, big name striker.
Of course, as we now know Aubameyang has been used as a partner for Lacazette rather than a replacement for the Frenchman, and the former Lyon man has started to find his groove for Arsenal this summer, scoring five times in 10 appearances.
It would have been easy for Arsenal to cut their losses on Lacazette at the end of last season. He looks slow and sluggish, unsuited to the demands of playing at the high pace of the Premier League. They could have moved on the French striker, designating Aubameyang as their new central striker. And yet they decided to stand by their man.
That decision seems to have paid off, with Lacazette starting the season in good form. He has found his groove, playing his part as Arsenal have strung together nine wins in a row in all competitions, recovering from a difficult start to the season to rise up the Premier League table rather dramatically.
In a league where patience is at a premium, this is refreshing. Look at Alvaro Morata, for instance. The Spaniard arrived at Chelsea at the same time, in the same transfer window, as Lacazette arrived at Arsenal, suffering similar struggles in his first season. But while Morata looks doomed as a Chelsea player, with the Blues rumoured to be looking at strikers around Europe, Lacazette has been given more leeway to adapt to his new surroundings.
Some may argue that this is down to the price of the two players, with Morata a more expensive striker than Lacazette. But Lacazette was still, at the time, the most expensive Arsenal signing of all time and so with that came pressure. Some even claimed that he would be the best Arsenal striker since the days of Thierry Henry.
Aubameyang has played a role in the rise of Lacazette, with the former Borussia Dortmund attacker key in creating space for the former through his position in a slightly wider area of the pitch. But whatever the reason for Lacazette’s improvement, this serves as a lesson to those quick to write off new signings, particularly strikers. Arsenal stood by their man and are now reaping the rewards.
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